Tag: Frustration

Words That Bug Me, And Will Now Bug You

“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”
– Jane Wagner

We all have word pet peeves, times when people use phrases incorrectly, insert words that don’t actually mean what they think it means, or when society at large is responsible for corrupting a word’s usage.  I probably take my particular pet peeves too seriously, but it cannot be helped.

“Ironic” – which does not mean unfortunate, coincidental, silly, funny, aggravating, or any of the other things Alanis Morrissette can now be blamed for teaching us to think it means.

An excellent example of common modern usage.

“Ye”- as previously mentioned, anytime you see a sign showing “Ye Olde [something], you’re not actually looking at a “y” but at an Old English character called “thorn” which makes a “th” sound.

This confusion is somewhat understandable as it is most commonly found in England where several linguistic invasions have made the language something of a puzzle for most who try to learn it as a second language.  Pear, pair, and pare, you try explaining that one.  Or the reason knight isn’t spelled night, when in other words a “gh” produces and “f” like in laugh.  Or why, depending on where you’re from, you may spell civilisation as civilization.  Or why English doesn’t really have rules, only exceptions.

First the Celts came to Britain, after possibly conquering another group of people who were there first, and as far as we know didn’t have much in the way of writing.  There are some hatch mark symbols carved in stone but these seem to have been a clumsy, tedious sort of way of keeping track of things and so they decided instead to rely on memory which they trained to fantastic levels (and where did you leave your keys this morning?).  Then came the Romans who brought Latin and other previously unknown practices (see Decimate below).  But then their empire, as it had become by this time since they’d given up most pretensions to a republic, caught a nasty case of “The Collapsings” and the legions were recalled from Britain, leaving the Romanized population unprotected and understandably miffed.

I think it's time for a trade up, lads!

The Anglo Saxons (go here and carefully note the caption!), watching this from their Germanic homesteads with glee, could see an upwardly mobile real estate deal when it presented itself, so bunches of the upped sticks and sailed over.  They originally were hired as mercenary protectors by the Britons, but they didn’t go in much for togas compared to rape and pillage and within a few years had taken over and set about to dividing into small kingdoms and declaring war on each other to their hearts’ content.  They also brought their language, on which somewhat better records were kept.  A few centuries later, just as soon as they’d got themselves unified into some semblance of order and had started keeping excellent chronicles, a Norman across the Channel decided he ought to be king.  William the Bastard, for that was his unfortunate name,  invaded and won.  He ousted the Anglo Saxon lords and installed his own Old-French-mixed-with-Latin-again speaking cronies instead, further enriching the language and changing his name to the much more impressive sounding William the Conqueror.

But, in spite of each subsequent invader’s attempt to quash the language of those who came before, the invaded stubbornly held on to an impressive lot of their old languages and culture, which is why something as old as a millennium old written character that looks like “y” and sounds like a “th” is still bulldogish-ly refuses to go away.  Which is good because “Yee old [anything]” sounds absolutely ludicrous.

Apostrophe – I know this isn’t a word, but you know what I mean.  People will throw this little mark wherever they think something should go, but for the life of them don’t know whether it’s a different spelling, contraction, or trying to show possession.

There/Their/They’re – And while we’re on the subject!  These are totally different words, figure ’em out!

Had this been painted a week earlier, it would have depicted the farmer's wife and children still alive. One must admire his optimism here, yes?

“Medieval” used when people mean backwards.  Actually refers to a distinct period in Western history which was complex, interesting, and full of people trying desperately to push their way forward out of the mess that Rome put them in after dividing, collapsing, and embarrassingly allowing itself to be ripped to shreds by barbarian hordes.  Western standards of music, culture, and literature were developed during this period.  Architecture, which had become an utterly lost art  was redeveloped literally from the ground up.  The ideas of credit, and banking were invented.  The whole period is a heartening example of human beings being knocked into the sludge over and over again with invasions, plagues, more invasions, famine, and a couple of other invasions, and consistently picking themselves up, dusting off the disease and gore, and getting back to the difficult business of human advancement.

Irregardless – This is not, in fact, a word.  At all.  Don’t use it.  Ever.

“Decimate” – Once upon a time, there was an empire that was cheerfully burgeoning in the centuries BC.  Not that they called themselves an empire, oh no!  That would have sounded barbaric and unenlightened.  They called themselves a Republic, the Roman Republic to be exact, and since they were so enlightened and grand, the ideal career for a spry, young Not-Empire was to invade all their nearest neighbors and force them to submit to their rule.  Really there were few things this adolescent Republic liked better than sauntering into Germany, Greece, or North Africa and casually killing a few thousand people before breakfast.

"Tough luck, Flavius." "Son of a Gaul!"

Not content with brutality directed at the unwashed masses they were trying to subdue (so that they could tax and enslave the snot out of them), occasionally when one of their vicious battalions mutinied or were insufficiently enthusiastic about marching off to slaughter, the commander would order them decimated.  Meaning that they would be divided into groups of ten, draw lots, and whichever one of them pulled the short straw was stoned or bludgeoned to death.  Literally it meant to reduce by one tenth.

Nowadays, the term decimation is used, completely at odds with its origin and etymology, to mean when people, places, or structures are reduced by cataclysmic proportions (although the American media is prone to exaggeration in this regard: “That windstorm last night decimated trees and power lines!” for example, when maybe one or two were knocked down).  Decimated does not mean destroyed, wiped out, broken, mildly damaged, and dirtied up.

“Like” – “It was, like, so hard!  I mean, like, I’ve never had to do anything that bad since, like, I had to pick out my, like prom dress!”  The word “like” means similar to.  Or fond of.  It can be used as a conjunction, verb, or adverb, it is NOT an equivalent to “um…”

Thwack!

“I’d have you  lot up in front of the University authorities first thing in the morning, if it wasn’t for the fact that you are the University authorities…”
– Terry Prachett

We are moving into one of the worst months of year at work: June is the month building up to the annual July 4th celebration.  This usually involves celebrity VIPs, nearly 100,000 additional people on campus, parades, hiring up to 100 more students for less than a week, and other assorted headaches.  Last year I got lucky and got married instead so I was out of town for the final crisis.

This year I may not get as lucky unless J. and I can come up with a cheap vacation idea.  And then there’s the guilt.  I’d be leaving some of the other girls in an awful lurch skiving off like that.  Plus Hennessy is getting married mere days before and it would rather shabby for both of us to disappear.

However, this nobility of purpose doesn’t make the impending event any less irksome.  It’s my job to get those darling student employees outfitted and, more importantly, in fear of the personal Hell that will await them if they don’t return every last piece of gear to me.  At the end of football season this past year, I was somehow seconded to be responsible for collecting and minding this stuff permanently even though I hadn’t been in charge of distributing it, recording who got what, or when it should be returned at the beginning of the year.  You may imagine the resulting confusion.  And my attitude about it.

Die.

This year will run much smoother since Hennessy and I have teamed up to tackle it, but problems are already creeping up.  Such as the fact that the Special Events department hasn’t given us a time to distribute stuff, and has decided that these students need only three hours of training (to take place three days before this nearly 100,000 people plus pyrotechnics rolls into town).

It’s fortified my bewilderment.  Ever since my personal equivalent of the burning of the Library of Alexandria, I’ve been thinking (again) about some of the glitches of working where I do.

The real problem with this university is, as I see it, is that it’s a combination of a business, a school district with too many children and not enough teachers, and (due to the religious background and funding) a monastery.  Which doesn’t combine too well, professionally speaking.  As a bureaucracy, resources are not always well-managed.  Administration errors are overlooked in the spirit of Brotherly Kindness, but minor problems lower down on the chain of command are punished with all the fervor of an inquisition.  And, completely at odds with religious teaching, good work is not rewarded while bad work is not scrutinized or punished.  It’s baffling.

Making a Cake of Myself

“If you wait a few minutes you can have a piece of cake.  Baked it chock-full of love, actually chock-full of unrelenting, all-consuming rage and hostility.  But still tasty.”
-Grey’s Anatomy

I made light of it but yesterday’s brush off (you know, when I delivered fifty years of an otherwise undocumented perspective on the growth of the university, state, and country through some of the most turbulent social decades of the previous century…nothing big) was a crushing blow.  I’ve been coasting along blissfully at work ever since my rage stroke without caring too much about the administrative snafus that I seem to see everywhere.

But then this happened and my entire academic life flashed before my eyes.  I wondered if all my education even mattered, if I’d ever be able to use it again, what would become of me, blah blah blah.  It was rough.  To make it worse it was compounded with hormones and J. wanting to talk about our future (grad school, loans, working now, internships).  The overwhelming sense of uncertainty blended nicely into the tempest already brewing in my teapot.

Cue minor meltdown.  I started baking immediately.  I hate cooking of all forms so for me it’s the ultimate cathartic experience: I can take out my emotions by beating eggs, shredding carrots, and pummeling dough into submission, and come out with something sugary at the end.  Perfect.  Luckily Venice and I met somewhere in the middle – she needed butter, I needed Midol – and I got a nice heaping dose of perspective, as she’d had a pretty wretched day too.

She’s been suffering at work for years now.  And unlike me, she doesn’t have lots of really great co-workers and supervisors to make the stupidity and drudgery less irksome.  (Don’t go, Venice!  Er…ahem…)  Twenty minutes complaining about work, mutual resolve to learn to cope better, and I was ready to talk grad school with J.

Summary: Friends and muffins make everything, even the occasional crisis of faith, better.

Top. Men.

“We have top men working on it right now.”
“Who?”
“Top men.”
– Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Pictured: a villain immediately preceeding his revalation of exactly how badly he has been behaving for the last hour and a half.

In almost every movie there is that incredibly silly moment when the villain is confronted with the fruits of his or her destruction and, looking over the rivers of lava/ looming black hole/ annihilation of an entire civilization/ etc., murmurs in despair, “My god, what have I done?!”

I had one of those moments today.  After getting all the archives into chronological order (which you’d think they’d already be in, right?  Hah!), tagging them by date, pulling original photos and making notes on when/where they originally occurred in print, and hauling it one massive armload at a time to the library, I asked for the archivist.  Student employees helped me carry the stacks of papers and binders and asked what I was doing.  I couldn’t very well shout, “Saving history!” in the library, so I quietly whispered the tale of the iniquitous order to dispose of fifty years of information.
“He told you to shred it!” one girl squeaked in horror.
“I know,” I squeaked back.

We were all awash with the enthusiasm of the young until the archivist appeared.  He looked like Eeyore the donkey in human form: droopy, awkward, exhausted, and less than thrilled to see me with my arms full of documents.
“Hi, I’m C. from the police department.  We talked on the phone and–”
“Oh, right,” he sighed, “Follow me.”

The whole cavalcade meandered down some halls and through secured doors…to a lonely room, lined with shelves and piled with papers.
“Here’s a project for you,” he mumbled to what appeared to be a heinously overworked student employee, and ordered us to drop the whole pile on her (already covered) desk.

My project is somewhere alongside the Ark, I'm sure.

Which is when I had my cinema-villain-is-confronted-by-what-she’s-done moment.  I’d committed the most rookie of cardinal sins: I’d just turned over fifty years of history to a bureaucracy!

I’ve gained all sorts of skills and experiences at this job, but law enforcement is not my calling, to say the least.  But history!  Oh, yes.  And this project is the first thing in over a year and a half that’s come close to the things I’ve studied and feel passionate about.   Certainly it’s the only thing that’s got me excited enough to annoy my co-workers with my near constant cries of, “Read this!”  And now, I’ve an awful premonition that my precious bundles are only going to slowly decompose in the bowels of the library.  There is no justice in the world.

An Upstairs, Downstairs Drama

“It is folly to punish your neighbor by fire when you live next door.”
– Publilius Syrus

Those of you who remember this little fiend, will be happy to know that he has departed for grimmer and more diabolic realms.  Alternatively, you will be saddened to know that he has been replaced with something far, far worse:

Our new upstairs neighbors. 

Artist's rendering of the neighbor's parties.

Not only do they fight, constantly, at the top of their lungs, specifically at ridiculous hours of the the night, but they are also completely incapable of walking.  No, no.  They stomp.  Which makes our ceiling shake.  And they throw parties with loud friends in which they, as far as we can tell, practice riverdancing.  Or dropping bowling balls.   

The other night, when we were watching a movie, we heard the door above us slam and moments later the light fixture started rattling around.
“Ah good,” J. said, “Lord and Lady Stompington are home.”
Obviously all this PBS watching is starting to rub off on him!

Know-Nothing. Party.

C.’s Quick Translation for Online Oppinuendo on Health Care

You liberal/conservative idiot! :   I respectfully disagree with you.

Don’t you have a brain?! :   I respectfully disagree with you.

The Republicans/Democrats are out of touch with the American people!  Down with them!  Drag them into the streets! :   Rep-R/Rep-D voted against my personal opinion! 

Obama is the Antichrist! :  I’m conservative.

Obama is brave to take this problem on! :   I’m liberal.

Stop making asinine comments! :   I have weighed and measured such information as I have found, and I now find myself on the other side of the aisle from you.

You socialist nazi! :   I respectfully disagree with you.

You conservative nazi! :   I respectfully disagree with you.

This is a choice between good and evil! :   This is a choice between political ideologies, about which I feel very strongly.

It’s unconstitutional! :   It personally offends my sensibilities.

I can’t even begin to tackle your logical fallacies! :   I refuse to attempt to see things from your liberal/conservative point of view and prefer to argue.

As a future doctor I don’t want to have the government dictate the terms of my work (requirements, treatment standards, paycheck, etc.) to me! :   I much prefer to dictate the terms of my work  (requirements, treatment standards, paycheck, etc.) to my patients myself.

Go ****/$$$$/@@@@/%%%%  yourself! :   I’m afraid we just can’t see eye to eye on this. 

The End Times are coming! :   I am seriously displeased with the turn of events.

I’m moving to Canada! : I am not actually moving to Canada despite ranting to the contrary for some time. 

 

There, now you find yourself able to navigate the intricacies of Facebook, comment threads, and forum mudslinging.  Take a few calm breaths to recharge and think of some withering profanities, and when you feel ready, charge back into the fray.  Discussion doesn’t seem to be the name of the day, so feel free to bandy tired clichés back and forth, quote the pundits/talking heads in lieu of actual original thought, and mistake insults/gloating for a solution.  Carry on!

Ready To Spring!

 “Winter is a ball hog.  It’s time to warm the bench and let Spring play a bit.”
– TenFour
 

I make this same error every year: sometime around mid-February we get a week of warmer temperatures and sun instead of thick, low-hanging clouds, and I will invariably mistake this for the early signs of Spring.  

I'm ready to be right regular March Hare!

I’ll start gleefully stripping my closet of turtlenecks, sweaters, and wool trousers and putting them in plastic tubs for storage.  I’ll shun hot chocolate and tea and valiantly start drinking lemonade.  I’ll start sporting brightly colored shirts and colorful accessories.  I’ll shave my legs with more enthusiasm than I’ve done in months! 

However, immediately after one (foolishly) locks the last of one’s winter gear away, the snow clouds roll back in and one has to snag a cardi from home on one’s lunch break because the temperature has dropped.  It’s been snowy and gray all day and I’m in a strop.  See here and here for last year’s thoughts on the subject.    

Admittedly, it’s been an irregular winter to begin with.  Here I’ve sat (mostly) high and dry in the Rocky Mountains while two nasty snowstorms have walloped the East coast.  Where’s the logic?